T20 is all about momentum and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have that at the moment. Coming from the brink after losing two straight games, they have made it to the final and are the overwhelming favourites against Mumbai Indians.
RCB’s success story has revolved around three top-order players — Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Tillakaratne Dilshan. The others have chipped in with bits and pieces performances, but the trio has consistently provided the thrust to help the team go past 200-plus totals in two back-to-back games and against quality Australian attacks.
Gayle, of course, is the biggest threat and MS Dhoni had shown during the IPL how to keep the marauding left-hander in check. In two games, he started with R Ashwin and the offie got rid of the left-hander early. Mumbai, too, have a spinner of the calibre of Harbhajan Singh.
One thing that may go in favour of Mumbai bowlers is the nature of the Chepauk track. It’s not like Chinnaswamy where the ball comes on to the bat, something that the likes of Kohli, Dilshan and Gayle really enjoy. The RCB boys haven’t played on this new Chepauk surface and that may just make things difficult for them.
“We have been here for a while now and know how the pitch behaves,” Mumbai Indians bowling coach Shaun Pollock had said.
The team has played three games here, winning two, and even in the one game they lost against NSW, the bowlers did look good after the batting faltered.
The Mumbai Indians batting, of course, is still a bit of a worry. They lack the one solid batsman, who can take them through if things go tight. James Franklin has tried to play the part, but he doesn’t have the quality of a Kohli to do that consistently.
On the bowling front though, there’s not much to choose from. The likes of Lasith Malinga and Bhajji have the ability to put the brakes on. RCB’s Daniel Vettori and Dirk Nannes, too, know how to operate in Indian conditions.
Local left-arm spinner Syed Mohammad could have been a good option for RCB on this track, but he is out with a ligament tear and that will be a blow.